Alive Guitar Lesson – Pearl Jam

The opening riff to Pearl Jam's "Alive" was pretty much the first thing any of us heard of this now legendary rock band. In the first video lesson below, I will show you how it is done.

This riff has consistently been voted the best of the 90's. Whatever your thoughts are on that there is no denying that it helped to propel the band to stratospheric heights in the early 90's.

Perhaps it is the laid back feel, cool hammer-ons or groove that makes this riff so memorable, but whatever the case it certainly deserves to be part of the guitar riffs section here at GL365.

Technically there isn't very much to be worried about with this one. The initial slide and quick hammer-on part of the riff is obviously the one part that will give some players a little but of trouble

Try to make them feel almost like one movement. What I mean by that is if you try to focus on the slide up then focus on the hammer-on lick it might make the riff sound a bit choppy.

Instead try to focus on the hammer-on lick and treat the slide as just a quick note you hit while sliding up to play the hammer-on lick. I think all of this will make since to you pretty quickly after practicing the riff a bit.

Also, there is a little half-step bend to contend with as well. Those are generally a little bit harder to keep in tune than whole step bends so make sure you focus on that a little bit too. For better control of the bend I recommend bending the string down towards the floor.

In the second video lesson, I will show you how to play all of the remaining rhythm guitar parts found in the rest of the song. There is a lot of cool chord work to learn in this video. Then, after you have learned all of the chords and riffs, it is time to tackle that solo!

In the third and fourth video lessons, I will take a look at that epic guitar solo note-for-note. Clocking in at almost 2 minutes long, I have decided to break the solo up into 2 video lessons to make it a bit easier to follow.

This solo contains lots of blues based playing with a lot of bends, double-stops, fast legato licks, unison bends and more.

I will take you through this very exciting solo phrase-by-phrase since I feel that is the quickest way to memorize and get the more difficult licks under your fingers.

Like I said before, this is a pretty long guitar solo, so don't feel that you will have to complete in one practice session. Some more advanced players will probably be able to do that, but the majority will take a few practice sessions at least.

Alright that is just about all I have to say about this one. Enjoy!


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Alive Guitar Lesson - Main Riff

Alive Guitar Lesson - Remaining Riffs & Chords

Alive Guitar Lesson - Solo Pt.1

Alive Guitar Lesson - Solo Pt.2


  1. hank on May 25, 2014 at 2:30 pm

    ill give it a million likes teach the whole song please.:) im getting close to becoming a premium. i wanna feel the bluees

  2. Steve on May 26, 2014 at 9:13 am

    Great lessons man! Loved this one. Thanks for the effort you put in, it’s like having a personal teacher at home.

    Would also love a lesson on the entire song, solo included please.

    Steve (South Africa)

  3. Alejandro Sanchez on December 9, 2015 at 2:56 pm

    Cool, we want the entire Song Please!!!

  4. John Raby on January 1, 2016 at 5:17 am

    I’ve had this for not even a night and love it, working on Fade to Black, tried this on Ultimate Guitar. None of them have it right. Agree with the rest. Entire song would be very appreciated on this one. Thank you for your time.

  5. Ted McNicoll on April 9, 2016 at 2:30 am

    Brilliant Carl
    can you include bridges and chorus please to finish the whole song.
    kind regards

  6. Ted McNicoll on April 15, 2016 at 1:37 am

    awesome Carl thank you for finishing this great song. Any chance of shot in the dark by ozzy. The main reason I ask is I believe it has a strange tuning it’s an awsome song to with cool voicings

    regards Ted

    • Carl Brown on April 16, 2016 at 1:01 pm

      I think I have that one on my to-do list. It is a great song! 🙂

  7. Matthew Ratliffe on April 1, 2018 at 5:56 am

    Great Lessons Carl! I would like to put up a request for “The Kenny Wayne Sheppard Band-Blue on Black” it has some “Strat-a-riff-ic” leads and a great bluesy gritted up feel. No good lessons on it out there though and you are so thorough! Please and thanks Carl if you got a chance.

  8. Chuck on January 11, 2023 at 3:40 pm

    Would you consider teaching us how to play the acoustic version of Sammy Hagar’s Give to Live? Can’t find a lesson for this one and you are the best!

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